Sporty looks, well-balanced riding characteristics and an exotic material: The Vaast A/1 is an extremely unique gravel bike made of magnesium that not only impresses with its very low weight.
Steel, titanium, carbon, aluminum - when you list the frame materials, you usually stop here. But one thing is missing, namely magnesium. The light metal, which weighs almost a third less than aluminium, has been used in frame construction for decades; with However, with the advent of carbon frames in the early 2000s, another lightweight alternative to aluminum was no longer popular.
Vaast is one of the few providers to use the material. The US manufacturer covers different market segments and offers, among other things, a very unusual full-suspension e-bike; There are also children's MTBs made of magnesium and the Vaast A/1 in different specifications or as a frame set including a carbon fork.
Vaast A/1: Gravel bike with a cross-country look
Vaast turns the rare material into a no-frills frame with an oversized down tube, an ovalized top tube and a slightly tapered head tube. With its only slightly sloping top tube, the A/1 looks more like a cyclocross bike, but the lowered chain stays and the massive fork, each with two threaded holes for mounts, give away the Graveller. Not much else can be mounted, neither a third bottle holder nor a small top tube bag, but mudguards.
Tire clearance is a good average at 42mm for 28" wheels and 50mm for 650B tires, although a 45mm wide 622 tire should also fit. The cables and lines that were not shortened on the test bike are routed through the down tube, where there is a fairly large plug, the shift cable then runs a little further through the chainstay, so that the dark red shimmering bike appears quite tidy. For the bottom bracket, Vaast relies on the wide T47 standard with a 30 mm shaft; This allows the chainstays to be spaced far apart. Worth seeing are the milled parts on the rear triangle, the connection between the bottom bracket and the chainstay, as well as the left dropout with the mount for the brake caliper.
Powerful and comfortable
With a balanced ratio of stack and reach, you sit moderately stretched and not too deep, but quite sporty on the Vaast. The steering is pleasantly neutral, with the steering angle being rather steep, but the wheelbase is quite long. Overall, the bike seems to have a decent amount of propulsion – at most it is slowed down a bit by the rear wheel, which is probably a bit heavy due to the cassette. The Maxxis tires, which are tube-mounted on the test bike, roll easily on the road and offer good grip on both loose and soft surfaces.
The Vaast A/1 is equipped with SRAM Rival components as well as the noble practice crankset made of carbon. The function of the brakes and gears is great; with a 42 sprocket and 11-42 cassette, the range of gear ratios is very large. The tubeless experts from Stan's contribute the aluminum wheel set, which with a good 20 mm internal width is more of an all-rounder than a specialist for wide tires and can also be used on cyclocross bikes, for example. The handlebars are wide, clearly flared and wrapped in soft, non-slip tape, the carbon seat post contributes to the overall high level of riding comfort, although it is difficult to say to what extent the high inherent damping of the frame material has an impact on shock and vibration absorption. The A/1 definitely doesn't ride like a hard aluminum frame.
Lighter due to magnesium
Can the magnesium frame offer a noticeable weight advantage? If the wheels are deducted (3,85 kilos with tyres, rim and brake discs), it shows that the magnesium bike at 9,28 kilos is even lighter than some carbon bikes in the price range around 3.000 euros, whereby the weight differences in the equipment are not taken into account are. Reasons in favor of the light metal compared to carbon fibers are, for example, the better ecological balance and the recyclability of the material. Of course, the Vaast is not cheaper than a carbon bike - more exotic anyway.